Hey guys! Today I’m sharing my review of The Girl With The Red Balloon!
I am not a fan of historical fiction, so I was a bit skeptical about picking up this book at first… BUT I decided to give it a try because; (1) it’s short (Only 256 pages!), (2) it sounds simple, yet interesting, (3) TIME TRAVEL? YES PLEASE!
My Rating: 4.0 stars (⋆ ⋆ ⋆ ⋆)
When sixteen-year-old Ellie Baum accidentally time-travels via red balloon to 1988 East Berlin, she’s caught up in a conspiracy of history and magic. She meets members of an underground guild in East Berlin who use balloons and magic to help people escape over the Wall—but even to the balloon makers, Ellie’s time travel is a mystery. When it becomes clear that someone is using dark magic to change history, Ellie must risk everything—including her only way home—to stop the process.
“If you give a girl a red balloon, she’ll believe in magic and memory.
If you give a girl a red balloon, she’ll never want to let go.”
Ellie grew up hearing stories from her grandfather (who’s a Jewish survivor of the Holocaust & WWII) about how he was saved from a death camp by a girl with a red balloon. So when Ellie visits Germany, as part of a school trip, she sees a red balloon and decides to take a picture with it! What she doesn’t know is, that this balloon is magical, and it transports her back in time to East Germany, where red balloons are used to save people like Ellie’s grandfather, and take them over the Berlin Wall.
Back in 1988 East Berlin, there’s a “secret society” that uses magic and red balloons to transfer people to the west, where they can be safe. I LOVED the concept, it’s simple yet there’s so much behind it! I would have loved to read more about how this started or at least more information to understand it. It seems that Ellie understood this better than me! She starts to adapt quickly when she travels back in time! As an outsider (American from the future), Ellie was constantly in hiding and in danger. She starts to work on her German to try to blend in, but we all know that isn’t as easy as it sounds…
THERE’S ROMANCE IN THIS BOOK AND IT KILLS ME TO KNOW WHAT HAPPENS! I don’t want to talk about it or get too mucho into it because I don’t want to spoil it, but I think the romance is what hurt me the most through the story. It’s just so sweet, kind, friendly, and real! I want to protect them. *cries*
The topics in the story are so important and relevant to all time periods! You’ll find racism, war, genocide, the holocaust, and a loooot more. I loved the mix between magic, science and math to explain how the balloons and time-travel is caused.
“Simple borders and demarcations made such a difference in someone’s future, hopes, and drams, and the promises they could make.”
Another thing I loved about this book is that it shows us that ONE person and/or ONE decision can change the course of history. Magic or no magic, we have the power to change the world. I believe this is an important message we need to send, especially with everything that’s going on in the world right now… we shouldn’t give up. We have the power to change things, even if it takes time to do so.
An important part of the story –for me- is how Ellie has to deal with “restraining herself” from affecting the future. She wants to help, she wants to be useful, and she knows that the Berlin Wall is going to fall, but she also sees that all of these people are suffering and she wishes she could do something about it! Ellie is such a vulnerable yet strong character. I could relate to her so much!
It’s such an interesting, beautiful, and somehow… it’s also a dark story. I NEVER felt like I was reading a historical fiction book.
I don’t think there’s words to describe how beautiful this story is. I know I said this before, but I REALLY am not a fan of historical fiction, so yeah, picking up this book was a bit of a challenge (initially) for me. But just know that this story reads like a magical -time travel- contemporary with historical elements. It reads so different from what I’ve tried before, and it’s definitely on the heavier side of what YA fiction is, which I also enjoyed. So if -like me- you are not a fan of the historical genre, this book is a great place to start!
Overall Rating: 4.0 stars